College Radio by Caroline Galdi

College Radio
Caroline Galdi

Whenever I picture the booth in my mind, it’s silent. I don’t know why. Here in the real world, music plays from monitors around the clock, whether or not anyone is here to hear it. If the FCC catches us broadcasting dead air, we get fined.

Maybe it’s the way nothing moves here. The rotation CDs stay uniformly disheveled, and the thousands of discs on the shelves stand guard quietly around the perimeter, their jewel cases alphabetized and color-coded by genre. Maybe it’s the fact that all of the equipment has been gathering dust since 2002. Even if it were clean, the distinctive white-beige of the console’s casing would betray its age.

The wall space not taken up by CDs is filled with posters for events. Some are recent; others aren’t. They tell a history of the generations of radio kids before me: obsessing over new releases together, chatting live on the air. Making friends, going to house shows, getting high, dancing, falling in love. I can practically smell the history in the room, read it in the coffee table plastered with stickers, in the Sharpie graffiti on a box of records.

Nobody is ever here when I enter the studio. When I exit, nobody follows me: an old computer program takes my place. Time seems to move differently during the two longest hours of the week, when I pop CD after CD, reading expired announcements from a wrinkled sheet of paper, broadcasting to whatever listeners I have in the tiny radius we reach. An artificial Christmas tree lurks in a corner, bare but for the plaster angel topper. She blesses the studio with a warm gesture of goodwill, unaware that her face has been tattooed and marked up with ballpoint pen.

Out the windows and three stories down, a Friday night begins to emerge in the remnants of the setting sun. People gather outside of bars and restaurants. They chat underneath a street light in threes and fives, dressed up in their finest party clothes.
I sit down, switch on the microphone, and begin speaking to nobody.

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